This is the 55th part of this series, reading The Qur’an; A New Translation by Abdel Haleem. We’ll occasionally compare that to other translations and with tafsirs for clarification. We’re also reading each “chapter” [surah] in order of revelation [mostly] rather than the order in which they are typically printed. If you missed some of this series, you can see:
my 1st post on surahs 1 & 2.
my 2nd post on surahs 96, 68 & 73.
my 3rd post on surahs 74, 111 & 81.
my 4th post on surahs 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103.
my 5th post jumping to surah 18.
my 6th post on surahs 100, 108, 102, 107, 109 & 105
my 7th post was on surahs 113, 114, 112 & 53.
my 8th post on surahs 80, 97, 91, 85, 95 & 106.
my 9th post on surahs 101, 75, 104 & 77.
my 1oth post on surahs 50, 90 & 86.
my 11th post on surah 54,
my 12th post on surah 38,
my 13th post on surah 7,
my 14th post on surah 72,
my 15th post on surah 36,
my 16th post on surah 25,
my 17th post on surah 43,
my 18th post on surah 35.
my 19th post on surah 19.
my 20th post on surah 20,
my 21st post on surah 56.
my 22nd post on surah 26.
my 23rd post on surah 27.
my 24th post on surah 28.
my 25th post on surah 17.
my 26th post on surah 10.
my 27th post on surah 11.
my 28th post on surah 12.
my 29th post on surah 15.
my 30th post on surah 6.
my 31st post on surah 37.
my 32nd post on suras 31 & 34.
my 33rd post on surah 39.
my 34th post on surah 40.
my 35th post on surah 41.
my 36th post on surah 42.
my 37th post on surah 44.
my 38th post on suras 45 & 46.
my 39th post of suras 51 & 88.
my 40th post on surah 16.
my 41st post post on suras 71 & 14.
my 42nd post on surah 21,
my 43rd post on surah 23
my 44th post on suras 32 & 52
my 45th post on suras 67, 69 & 70.
my 46th post on suras 78, 79, 82 & 84.
my 47th post on suras 30 & 29.
my 48th post on sura 83
my 49th post on surah 8
my 50th post on surah 3.
my 51st post on surah 33 & 60.
my 52nd post on surah 4.
my 53rd post on suras 99, 57 & 47
and my 54th post on suras 13 & 55 Surah
Sūrah 76 (Al-Insan) Man
I am mildly amused that the Arabic pronunciation of “man” seems to be “all insane”. Lately that strikes me as a competing species name to balance against the other extreme, “Homo sapiens”, (Man the wise).
1Was there not a period of time when man was nothing to speak of ?
Translator, Abdel Haleem has a footnote here, saying that the literal translation is “‘Has there not come over man a period of time when he was not mentioned?’ This refers to the time before a person is born, the point being that he was nothing, then God created him, just as He will bring him to life again for Judgement.” That didn’t make any sense to me either. So I checked with IslamicStudies.info. They listed multiple interpretations, starting with the choice between questioning whether this time happened, denying this time happened and acknowledging that of course this time happened; all of which might all be applicable at once. My favorite of their interpretations was this, that “In the second sentence, [what second sentence?] hin um-min ad-dahr the word dahr implies the endless time, the beginning and end of which are unknown to man and this is the particular period of time which might at some time have passed during this endless period. What is meant to be said is that in this immensely long span of time there has passed a long period when human race was altogether non-existent. Then a time came in it when a species called man was created, and in the same period a time has passed on every person when a beginning was made to bring him into existence from nothingness.” Well, we were not “created”, certainly not “out of nothingness”, but at least we can agree that there was a vast amount of time before we existed as a species.
2We created man from a drop of mingled fluid to put him to the test; We gave him hearing and sight; 3We guided him to the right path, whether he was grateful or not.
The “right path” being blind submission to superstitious credulity to the point of committing tribal warfare over religious differences.
4We have prepared chains, iron collars, and blazing Fire for the disbelievers, but 5the righteous will have a drink mixed with kafur, 6a spring for God’s servants, which flows abundantly at their wish.
For any reasonable, rational person thinking analytically, I think this passage counts as evidence against the authority of the Qur’an.
7They fulfil their vows; they fear a day of widespread woes; 8they give food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive, though they love it themselves, 9saying, ‘We feed you for the sake of God alone: We seek neither recompense nor thanks from you. 10We fear the Day of our Lord––a woefully grim Day.’ 11So God will save them from the woes of that Day, give them radiance and gladness, 12and reward them, for their steadfastness, with a Garden and silken robes.
Whereas, if there really was a god, one that actually qualifies as a supreme being and all that Muslims and Christians describe their god to be, then there would be no Hell, no day of judgment, and no requirement of faith. Instead, there would be a means to improve ourselves in all capacity; something no religion really wants us to do.
13They will sit on couches, feeling neither scorching heat nor biting cold, 14with shady [branches] spread above them and clusters of fruit hanging close at hand. 15They will be served with silver plates 16and gleaming silver goblets according to their fancy, 17and they will be given a drink infused with ginger 18from a spring called Salsabil. 19Everlasting youths will attend them––if you could see them, you would think they were scattered pearls––20and if you were to look around, you would see bliss and great wealth: 21they will wear garments of green silk and brocade; they will be adorned with silver bracelets; their Lord will give them a pure drink.
So the believers will live like rich people, attended to by Neverland children who never grow up, as well as sex slaves (mentioned in previous suras) who never grow old, and neither of these types of autonomous immortal servants have free will, or even identity. Believers are to be attended to by artificial people, pleasure-bots. Muslim Heaven is quite creepy, really, and the more deeply we consider it, the worse it gets.
22[It will be said], ‘This is your reward. Your endeavours are appreciated.’ 23We Ourself have sent down this Quran to you [Prophet] in gradual revelation. 24Await your Lord’s Judgement with patience; do not yield to any of these sinners or disbelievers; 25remember the name of your Lord at dawn and in the evening; 26bow down before Him, and glorify Him at length by night.
Keep the delusion a consistent obsession, or else reason may set in and harsh your buzz.
27These people love the fleeting life. They put aside [all thoughts of] a Heavy Day. 28Yet We created them; We strengthened their constitution; if We please, We can replace such people completely.
And suddenly the real Aron disappeared and was replaced by a mindless automaton trying to seem like the real Aron. Does he even know that he isn’t the real Aron? I think I’ve seen that movie, a couple different versions of it in fact.
29This is a reminder. Let whoever wishes, take the way to his Lord. 30But you will only wish to do so if God wills– God is all knowing, all wise– 31He admits whoever He will into His Mercy and has prepared a painful torment for the disbelievers.
Remember that in several of the earlier suras, the Qur’an said that God chooses who will not believe in him, and closes their ears and eyes to his “truth” and all that, just so that he can punish us later. In other places, it points out that we have no free will of our own, that everything we do is because he chose for us to do that. This verse is re-inforcing that concept from the other direction, saying that believers only believe because God makes them believe. So we really are just toys to him, and he chooses who among us will play the villain, the victim or the hero.
Sūrah 65 (At-Talaq) Divorce
1Prophet, when any of you intend to divorce women, do so at a time when their prescribed waiting period can properly start, and calculate the period carefully: be mindful of God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes––nor should they themselves leave––unless they commit a flagrant indecency. These are the limits set by God–– whoever oversteps God’s limits wrongs his own soul––for you cannot know what new situation God may perhaps bring about.
Translator, Abdel Haleem says that “The waiting period starts properly after menstruation and before intercourse is resumed, and lasts for three menstrual cycles.” Imagine applying a rule like that to your own experience.
2When they have completed their appointed term, either keep them honourably, or part with them honourably. Call two just witnesses from your people and establish witness for the sake of God. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should heed this: God will find a way out for those who are mindful of Him, 3and will provide for them from an unexpected source; God will be enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose; God has set a due measure for everything.
And remember that the previous surah said that you cannot do any of these things unless God wills you to do them. So having this book tell you to do them is not only redundant but irrelevant.
4If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not [yet] menstruated; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy for those who are mindful of Him.
Get this. It’s talking about a waiting period to divorce CHILDREN, “those who have not [yet] menstruated”. Imagine a girl being married for some time and already divorced before she’s even a teenager yet.
5This is God’s command, which He has sent down to you. God will wipe out the sinful deeds and increase the rewards of anyone who is mindful of Him.
You know, I somehow seriously doubt very much that this command came from God, especially since it seems to be enabling and even encouraging sinful deeds.
6House the wives you are divorcing according to your means, wherever you house yourselves, and do not harass them so as to make their lives difficult. If they are pregnant, maintain them until they are delivered of their burdens; if they suckle your infants, pay them for it. Consult together in a good way– if you make difficulties for one another, another woman may suckle the child for the father
I wondered whether this verse speaks of child custody. Haleem’s footnote says otherwise, that “In Islamic law it is the father’s responsibility to pay for his child to be fed”. However, my panel assures me that in Islam, the man always gets custody.
––7and let the wealthy man spend according to his wealth. But let him whose provision is restricted spend according to what God has given him: God does not burden any soul with more than He has given it– after hardship, God will bring ease.
I have heard a lot of people say that God never burdens with more than we can bear. However, I’ve never heard anyone say that in the Children’s Cancer ward, because they know better.
8Many a town that insolently opposed the command of its Lord and His messengers We have brought sternly to account: We punished them severely 9to make them taste the ill effect of their conduct– the result of their conduct was ruin.
Remember that “insolence” being punished implied to be little more than just a lack of belief.
10God has prepared a severe torment for them. So, you who have understanding, you who believe, beware of God. He has sent you the Quran 11and a messenger– reciting to you God’s revelations that make things clear– to bring those who believe and do righteous deeds from darkness into light. God will admit those who believe in Him and do righteous deeds into Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will remain for ever– He has made good provision for them. 12It is God who created seven heavens and a similar [number] of earths. His command descends throughout them. So you should realize that He has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses everything.
It is so rare that the Qur’an ever says anything interesting. Here it says there are seven Heavens and also seven earths, or about that many, a “similar number”. Of course the Heavens referred to here are elsewhere described as the same Heaven divided into seven levels. Doubtless, there is a similar indication for the earth. Because in the flat earth model under the firmament that the Qur’an consistently refers to, a separate earth would mean a different firmament with it’s own collection of “heavens” in that other expanse. The Qur’an doesn’t allow for that.
Sūrah 98 (Al-Bayyina) Clear Evidence
1Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the idolaters were not about to change their ways until they were sent clear evidence, 2a messenger from God, reading out pages [blessed with] purity, 3containing true scriptures. 4[Yet] those who were given the Scripture became divided only after they were sent [such] clear evidence
So Jews, Christians and pagans alike asked for evidence to back the assertion, and were instead given just the assertion itself, as if the claim was evidence of itself. No wonder they didn’t accept it.
5though all they are ordered to do is worship God alone, sincerely devoting their religion to Him as people of true faith, keep up the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, for that is the true religion.
I would explain to God, that if you’re going to ask people to dedicate their lives and their wealth and everything to your religion, you really ought to give them some actual reason rather than the same old threat of Hell that you always give everyone, the same threat that already justifies their own religions.
6Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the idolaters will have the Fire of Hell, there to remain. They are the worst of creation. 7Those who believe and do good deeds are the best of creation. 8Their reward with their Lord is everlasting Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will stay forever. God is well pleased with them and they with Him. All this is for those who stand in awe of their Lord.
Remember that God not only created all of these people, everyone to his purpose, but he also decided which ones would believe and be rewarded, and which ones would disbelieve and be tortured forever in their innocence without his (cough) infinite mercy.
Sūrah 59 (Al-Hashr) The Gathering [of Forces]
1Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies God; He is the Almighty, the Wise. 2It was He who drove those of the People of the Book who broke faith out from their homes at the first gathering of forces––you [believers] never thought they would go, and they themselves thought their fortifications would protect them against God. God came up on them from where they least expected and put panic into their hearts: their homes were destroyed by their own hands, and the hands of the believers. Learn from this, all of you with insight!
The Qur’an is clearly not aimed at global humanity for all time but only for one little desert community at one moment in history, and the [obviously human] authors of the Qur’an did not include illustrative details because they expected all future readers to already be familiar with the folklore and history of that time. Fortunately, translator Abdel Haleem realized this failing and (partially) compensated for it, by explaining that this passage refers to the Jewish clan of Banu al-Nadir, who originally agreed with the Prophet that they would fight neither for nor against him, yet, after the Meccan defeat of the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud, made an alliance with the Meccans.” Haleem goes on setting the stage, but the only part that really matters here is that the Banu al-Nadir had repeatedly broken their agreements.
3If God had not decreed exile for them, He would have tormented them [even more severely] in this world. In the Hereafter they will have the torment of the Fire 4because they set themselves against God and His Messenger: God is stern in punishment towards anyone who sets himself against Him.
Is it worth noting that Jews and Muslims worship the same god? Therefore, Jews did not set themselves against God, but the guy who is trying to change their version of God to one that he made up himself.
5Whatever you [believers] may have done to [their] palm trees–– cutting them down or leaving them standing on their roots––was done by God’s leave, so that He might disgrace those who defied Him.
Because an uber-cosmic infinity is terribly insecure about his image in the eyes one tribe of Medieval desert bandits compared to another.
6You [believers] did not have to spur on your horses or your camels for whatever gains God turned over to His Messenger from them. God gives authority to His messengers over whoever He will: God has power over all things.
Note how this claim allows anyone to simply assume and assert “authority” on the indefensible claim that God wants him to be in charge now.
7Whatever gains God has turned over to His Messenger from the inhabitants of the villages belong to God, the Messenger, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the traveller in need– this is so that they do not just circulate among those of you who are rich– so accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and abstain from whatever he forbids you. Be mindful of God: God is severe in punishment.
Remember, the messenger warns you that God conveys his messages only with the messenger, and that God will severely punish you if you don’t obey—the messenger—absolutely. Isn’t that a convenient racket, for whoever pretends to convey these alleged messages?
8The poor emigrants who were driven from their homes and possessions, who seek God’s favour and approval, those who help God and His Messenger– these are the ones who are true– [shall have a share].
You have to help God, because omnipotent deities need your assistance, especially financial assistance, especially when they have a messenger to promote and provide for.
9Those who were already firmly established in their homes [in Medina], and firmly rooted in faith, show love for those who migrated to them for refuge and harbour no desire in their hearts for what has been given to them. They give them preference over themselves, even if they too are poor: those who are saved from their own souls’ greed are truly successful. 10Those who came after them say, ‘Lord, forgive us our sins and the sins of our brothers who believed before us, and leave no malice in our hearts towards those who believe. Lord, You are truly compassionate and merciful.’
Except that he is neither compassionate nor merciful, and will only forgive as long as you believe, and help and obey his messenger, and not think about the fact that this alleged messenger is just a con-man scamming you.
11Have you [Prophet] considered the hypocrites who say to their fellows, the faithless among the People of the Book, ‘If you are driven out, we shall go with you– we would never listen to anyone who sought to harm you– and if you are attacked, we shall certainly come to your aid’? God bears witness that they are in fact liars: 12if they are driven out, they will never leave with them; if they are attacked, they will never help them. Even if they did come to their aid, they would soon turn tail and flee– in the end they would have no help. 13Fear of you [believers] is more intense in their hearts than fear of God because they are people devoid of understanding.
I can fully understand being afraid of God’s believers, even if I have no fear of God himself. Because people are real, and a real threat when they are made to believe crazy things, like prejudiced tribalism in service to what they imagine to be a war god wanting believers to kill in his name.
14Even united they would never fight you, except from within fortified strongholds or behind high walls. There is much hostility between them: you think they are united but their hearts are divided because they are people devoid of reason.
Have you ever noticed how religious people tend to project all their own faults onto their perceived enemies? As if those “others” are devoid of reason. But we have reason because we blindly believe unsupported assertions simply because someone said so.
15Like those who went just before them, a they have tasted the result of their conduct and a painful punishment awaits them.
Haleem says “This probably refers to the Banu Qaynuqa, another Jewish tribe banished for their treachery. It could also refer to the pagans at Badr.” See, the Qur’an is so “clear” that even the translators can’t be sure what it’s talking about.
16Like Satan, who says to man, ‘Do not believe!’ but when man disbelieves, says, ‘I disown you; I fear God, the Lord of the Worlds,’ 17both will end up in the Fire, there to remain. That is the reward of evildoers.
Remember, that the worst thing Satan ever did on his own was try to reason with the irrational, because not blindly believing is the same thing as “doing evil”. Satan is supposed to be this evil character, but it sounds like he is really just trying to be reasonable. Whereas God is the most heinous evil imaginable.
18You who believe! Be mindful of God, and let every soul consider carefully what it sends ahead for tomorrow; be mindful of God, for God is well aware of everything you do. 19Do not be like those who forget God, so God causes them to forget their own souls: they are the rebellious ones– 20there is no comparison between the inhabitants of the Fire and the inhabitants of Paradise– and the inhabitants of Paradise are the successful ones.
The Qur’an said there is no comparison, but still compared them.
21If We had sent this Quran down to a mountain, you [Prophet] would have seen it humbled and split apart in its awe of God: We offer people such illustrations so that they may reflect.
I had to read a couple other translations just to make sure I read this right. If the Qur’an had been given to a mountain instead of a man, the mountain would have crumbled in awe over a book. Not just any book, but a ridiculous compilation of empty assertions, repugnant threats and stupid claims.
22He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy.
The guy who invented Hell specifically to NOT give anyone mercy.
23He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. 24He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.